Towards A Good Samaritan World

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Michael Barone thinks John McCain is Bush's likely successor. Wow, I hope so! Barone writes:

McCain addressed two issues that have the potential to divide the Republican base: spending and immigration.

On spending, he said that to offset the spending of Hurricane Katrina and to prevent what "may be the largest deficit in history," Congress should revisit the highway bill—the big transportation bill passed earlier this year—and should consider delaying or repealing the Medicare prescription drug bill. On both of these issues his positions are to the right of the Bush administration's: After all, Bush signed both bills.

McCain's position on the highway bill is consistent with his longstanding and mostly futile attacks on pork barrel spending, but he has more allies this time: Members of Congress like Sen. Richard Shelby and (!) House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have said they'd delay spending on projects in their state or district. The pork-busters movement of which I have written may be gathering momentum.

As for the Medicare prescription-drug bill, Democrats have been trashing this legislation persistently, and it isn't very popular in the polls. The prescription-drug benefit is scheduled to go into effect next year. Republicans passed this bill because Bush and House Republicans didn't want to go into the 2004 election cycle as opponents of a prescription-drug benefit. But now they don't see it as much of a political plus. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

The nice thing about Bush's move to the fiscal left is that it allows a maverick candidate like John McCain to be on his right. McCain is admired by the mainstream media and by Democrats. He's a candidate who could bring home 60% of the electorate-- a president who would be bold on the issues but have popular support massive enough to preside over something like a national consensus. And yet he opposes pork and wants to cut spending. Brilliant! He wasn't one of the Social Security reform skeptics, either.

And he's to the left of Bush on immigration. That won't help him with the Republican base. Let them keep their eyes on the pork. For me, of course, immigration is the wedge issue: if I can tell clearly which candidate will do more to liberalize immigration to this country, that candidate will have my vote regardless of any other positions.


  • Your wedge issue is immigration? My wedge "issues" are competence and intelligence. What the president stands for is largely irrelevant, because congress is the one that makes laws. That being the case, what's important to me is not what the president believes in but how talented he is. That's why I would have voted for John Edwards as president even though I disagreed with him on almost every issue. McCain is pretty talented, and assuming Clinton wins the Democratic nominee, I would find it difficult not to vote for McCain. However, the past 5+ years have poisoned my opinion of the GOP in its current incarnation, and so I will probably vote Libertarian again in a sort of protest against the 2-party system.

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